Sometimes all you have to do is plant an idea, provide the tools needed and step back (http://www.ted.com/speakers/sugata_mitra.html). You have to be prepared for the end result to not be yours, but theirs. There’s a chance it may not be what you hoped. But there’s every chance it is what you hoped and more. And when the people who take it up and run with it and make it into something beautiful are children then it is inspirational (to others) and hopeful (for the future).
So it was with the Ferring show. One of the pioneers of Open Futures in the south, and our first school to put on an authentic horticultural show, with fine entries of vegetables and flowers, though they also entered some incredible cakes, biscuits and jam to show off their wide ranging talents.
I had no trouble getting a team of RHS judges together, which, whilst adding weight to the proceedings, was actually more about safety in numbers as I couldn’t then be held individually responsible by any disappointed children or their cross parents! However, I could be held responsible for wasting the morning of a number of senior colleagues if there was nothing really to judge, so I was a little anxious. After all, I had introduced the idea and had given some initial advice, but had then really left it to the school to develop and organise and they had left it to the children.
I hadn’t been in the school since the 27th May so I had no idea if their spring sowings had come to anything or had wilted under the hot June sun/been forgotten about by busy children and teachers/eaten by slugs, snails, pigeons, rabbits, carrot fly, eelworm (delete as appropriate).
I needn’t have worried. A combination of talented and enthusiastic children, a dedicated head, competitive teachers and teaching assistants and a horticulturally gifted caretaker ensured that their show could have rubbed shoulders with any local show around the country and would probably have stolen a few medals.
Impressive Successes: Long carrots
Lemon and white chocolate cookies
Soft fruit jam.
Classes I’d probably not do again for a mid-July show: Strawberries (most had finished)
Tomatoes (most hadn’t ripened)Broad beans (most were past their best).
I’ll let a few pictures tell the rest of the story: